South African Insurer Santam Accepts Liability for Some Rejected COVID-19 Claims

January 4, 2021

JOHANNESBURG – South African insurer Santam will begin assessing payouts for some previously rejected coronavirus-related claims after recent court judgments on such cases but still intends to challenge one finding against it.

Like other insurers around the world, Santam had rejected some business interruption claims related to coronavirus lockdowns.

While it said it would respect court rulings that found insurers should payout on such claims, it added that it would challenge a recent finding that it was liable for an indemnity period of 18 months in a case brought by hotel group Ma-Afrika.

“The company believes there are valid reasons to appeal the judgment … in the Ma-Afrika case with respect to the indemnity period,” it said of the closely watched case.

“The company will therefore continue with its application for leave to appeal the Ma-Afrika judgment … specifically with regard to the indemnity period.”

Santam believes the indemnity period should be limited to three months.

The insurer said the outcome of this case meant the financial impact of its decision to pay out was uncertain.

Santam has so far raised 3 billion rand ($205.99 million) to cover such liabilities, 1.3 billion rand of which has already been paid out in the form of interim relief to affected clients.

The company’s shares were down 0.3% at 1140 GMT.

($1 = 14.5637 rand) (Reporting by Emma Rumney; editing by David Goodman)

Photograph: View of empty streets in Cape Town, South Africa during coronavirus lockdown in April 2020.

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